Thursday, 26 April, 2018

German prosecutors call for Puigdemont's extradition to Spain

Germany Files Request to Extradite Puigdemont German prosecutors request Puigdemont's extradition
Charlie Simmons | 05 April, 2018, 01:41

The public prosecutor for Germany's northern state of Schleswig-Holstein announced on Tuesday that it had requested the extradition of former Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont was arrested by German police on March 25, as he was travelling from Finland back to Belgium, where he was living in self-imposed exile since Catalonia's independence referendum last October.

The prosecutors said: 'The accusation of rebellion contains at its core the allegation of carrying out an unconstitutional referendum despite expectations of violent disturbances'.

Prosecutors in the northern town of Schleswig said they have asked the regional court to formally put him in pre-extradition custody.

He fled Spain five months ago for Belgium after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed his regional administration and imposed direct rule from Madrid in response to the Catalan parliament declaring independence.

A second charge of misusing public funds is likely to prove uncontroversial, but Spanish prosecutors have been reluctant to allow his extradition on that charge alone. But the German government has said it would not interfere or veto any court decision, as this would be considered a "legal affront" by the federal government against the judicial system.

It's now up to regional court to decide whether to send the former Catalan president to Spain to face trial.

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"We are countries that deeply respect the rule of law. and the separation of powers", he said.

Puigdemont's lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas said his client's fate now rested with the courts.

A lawyer by training, Puigdemont has continued to reject the charge of inciting a rebellion in Spain's Supreme Court, saying he did not commit any acts of violence and did not illegally use Spanish government funds to finance a secessionist vote.

"At the moment, it is too early to say when a decision by the Senate for Criminal Matters on the application for the extradition arrest warrant may be expected", the court said in a statement.

"If the two criteria are fulfilled - that an extradition does not immediately appear inadmissable and that there is reason for arrest - that is a danger of flight - then the conditions for an arrest warrant are met", she said.

This case has divided public opinion in Germany, where supporters of the man still seen as the Catalan leader took to the streets to demand his release following his arrest. They all deny any wrongdoing.

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